It takes 100 miles for the land to become strange, and for us both to forget.
The dust chokes the smoking engine where he lifts the hood
He lifts the hood and what ritual is
Sifted black in our pockets is
Made of what will make it rain,
And not of what will return us
To That World.
To That World 100 miles ago, which we both forgot and
He trembles his hand over the valley
Coughing deep plegmatic
Loosing cotton and packets of salt,
Which are sweating in his pockets.
I shed my coin, my folded napkin,
Lighter now and still closer to the rain.
"Now the rain will come and darken the land like
We always had the car, until we didn't have it anymore.
The sunset is a dirty reddish-brown from the way men have painted it
And will always paint it.
There are few things but the ground and sun,
Plants rough and pale,
Hiding the bones of nothing.
His shoes crunch gravel like glass,
His shirt soaked in close sweat,
His smell like hostel or whorehouse.
His name is tattooed onto the inside of my throat,
That which carves the timbre of a laugh.
Water dries to blood.
Sun coalesces to lightning.
The storm approaches,
Moving slow across the waste.
"Great lizards once walked this country.
They sang to one another, and built forest temples
Inside which they discovered the light of humanity,
And they used their ancient magic to
Transform themselves into the image of their God.
No temples have survived, but the ground resonates where they once stood."
His hand presses flat the hot blacktop of the road we skirt
To be reminded of the shape of things,
The First Blood and the Last Massacre,
How to force this mass into the heart of
These things which so definitely refuse them.
The sunset fails,
And it fails
To hold tight the maroon road
As the rain begins.
He holds his hand out to catch the rain,
And he catches the rain,
Where he is dancing in the temples
Of long-dead lizard warriors,
And across the highway,
Soldiers have emptied themselves
Into the woolen martyrdom
Of dead native girls.
Their hair is sprawling lush,
Tumbling reckless black water and the veiny pink
Cracked insignia of this collision,
Seven brittle marvels hollowed to hold tight
To the maroon road, spraying
Spare arm and leg brown and useless.
"The wagons have come."
He tells me.
The blue-suited soldiers carry their own kind,
Borne heavy on cotton stretchers,
To the cloud-wagons black and murky,
Vanishing soft in the rain,
Which turns to blood
While the native girls wait
In silent pieces for their gods.